Women make picture books too…

Last night I noticed that Geek Dad had posted his favorite picture books, and so I popped over to check out the list.  And was shocked to find that they were almost all by men.  This made me cranky.  But I figured, “Eh, he’s just one guy.”

Then, this morning, I noticed that the Goodreads  ”Best of” is also virtually all men. In fact, Flora & the Flamingo and The Little Book of Sloth are the only books entirely by women.

And that… is more complicated. Because WE made that list. We, the readers of the world.

Now, if there weren’t a ton of amazing 2013 picture books by women, I could maybe accept this. But there TOTALLY are.  Which begs the question… WHAT’S GOING ON?

Do men actually just make better picture books than women? Do men get better marketing and publicity budgets than women for picture books indiasgenerics.com?  Or… as I’m beginning to fear… do we, the (largely) women who buy and blog about picture books have a tendency to elevate books by men?

I want to make a list to post today, of the 2013 BEST PICTURE BOOKS BY WOMEN.  Help me out? What’s your favorite?

(and for the sake of clarity, I’m only including books with BOTH female authors and illustrators here.  Though obviously I’m in support of men and women working together…)

(also, I removed all self-nominated books, including my own. For the sake of setting some guidelines)

City Cat, by Lauren Castillo

Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

If You Want to See a Whale, by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead

Dream Animals, by Emily Winfield Martin

How To, by Julie Morstad

Whimsy’s Heavy Things, by Julie Kraulis

How to Be a Cat, by Nikki McClure

Happy Birthday, Bunny, by Liz Garton Scanlon & Stephanie Graegin

Steadfast Tin Soldier, retold by Cynthia Rylant, art by Jen Corace

Octopus Alone, by Divya Srinivasan

Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller, art by Anne Wilsdorf

The Wee Hours, by Stephanie Watson, art by Mary GrandPre

Mustache Baby, by Bridget Heos, art by  Joy Ang

Nino Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

God Got a Dog, Cynthia Rylant, art by Marla Frazee

Flora & the Flamingo, by Molly Idle

My Blue is Happy, by Jessica Young, art by Catia Chien

Dream Friends, You  Byun

The Boy Who Loved Math, by Deborah Heiligman, art by Leuyen Pham

A Splash of Red, by Jen Bryant, art by Melissa Sweet

Wild, by Emily Hughes

The Story of Fish and Snail, by Deborah Freedman

Inside Outside, by Lizi Boyd

Fraidyzoo, by Thyra Heder

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover, by Anne Marie Pace, art by Leuyen Pham

Water in the Park, by Emily Jenkins, art by Stephanie Graegin.

Willow Finds a Way, by Lana Button, art by Tania Howells

Nora’s Chicks, by Patricia MacLachlan, art by Kathryn Brown

Once Upon a Northern Night, by Jean E. Pendziwol, art by Isabelle Arsenault

Read me a Story, Stella, by Marie Louise Gay

LIttle Red Writing, by Joan Holub, art by Melissa Sweet

Rock a Bye Room, by  Susan Meyers, art by Amy Bates

Whale Shines, by Fiona Robinson

Miss Maple’s Seeds, by Eliza Wheeler

Bits and Pieces, by Judy Schachner

If You Hold a Seed, by Elly MacKay

Cinders, by Jan Brett

How Big Were Dinosaurs, by Lita Judge

Gifts of the Heart, by Patricia Polacco

Downpour, by Emily Martin, art by Mara Shaugnhessy

Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, by Marilyn Singer, art by ALexandra Boiger

Hank Finds an Egg, by Rebecca Dudley

Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson

Peace, Baby, by Linda Ashman, art by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

The Case of the Missing Donut, by Allison McGhee, art by Isabel Roxas

The Line, by Paula Bossio

Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter, by Cari Best, art by Giselle Potter

Ding Dong Gorilla, by Michelle Robinson, art by Leonie Lord

Please Bring Balloons, by Lindsay Ward

It’s a Firefly Night, by Dianne Ociltree, art by Betsy Snyder

Odd DUck, by Cecil Castelucci, art by Sarah Varon

What the Heart KNows, by Joyce Sidman, art by and Pamela Zagarenski

FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, art by Robbin Gourley

FOLLOW, FOLLOW by Marilyn Singer, art by Josée Masse

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like?, by Catherine Thimmesh

I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love, by Lynne Tillman

Spark, by Kallie George, art by Genevieve Cote

Time for Bed, Fred, by Yasmeen Ismail

Once Upon a Memory, by Nina Laden, art by Renata Liwska

Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane and Hoda Hadadi

Brush of the Gods, by Lenore Look and Meilo So

Penguin Cha-cha, by Kristi Valiant

Brave Girl, by Michelle Market, art by Melissa Sweet

Open This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier , art by Suzy Lee

Razia’s Ray of Hope, by Elizabeth Suneby, art by Suana Verelst

Is This Panama?  By Jan Thornhill, art by Soyeon Kim

Henri’s Scissors, by Jeanette Winter

Seriously, keep adding titles! We’ll make a Goodreads list later.

And I’d like to add that I’m a HUGE FAN of the books on Geek Dad’s list.  These are some of my favorite authors and illustrators too.  But the list is incomplete.

Let’s fix that.

70 Responses to “Women make picture books too…”

  1. Sara Says:

    Great post, Laurel.

    Off the top of my head:

    Julie Morstad’s How To.
    Julie Kraulis’s Whimsy’s Heavy Things
    Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals

    And I love Jane, The Fox and Me and everything else Isabelle Arsenault has done. Do you know her Virgina Wolf with Kyo Maclear?

  2. Julie Falatko Says:

    And the funny books! Why aren’t there more women writing hysterically funny books, I ask you? I love THE PET PROJECT by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Zachariah OHora and TEA PARTY RULES by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by K.G. Campbell. OH! Also HOW TO BE A CAT by Nikki McClure. And Cynthia Rylant’s version of STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER, illustrated by Jen Corace.

  3. Julie Falatko Says:

    Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUNNY by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. My daughter insisted on getting a rocking zebra for her third birthday because of that sweet book. (You know how easy it is to find a rocking zebra? Not easy, let me tell you.)

  4. Julie Falatko Says:

    OCTOPUS ALONE by Divya Srinivasan.

  5. Erica Perl Says:

    My 2013 PB release, KING OF THE ZOO, is also woman-illustrated (the fabulous Jackie Urbanovic, of DUCK AT THE DOOR fame). Love this thread, and will think of more 2013 women-created PBs (Jackie Woodson’s THIS IS THE ROPE comes to mind, plus SOPHIE’S SQUASH).

  6. Anne Ursu Says:

    I love Stephanie Watson’s THE WEE HOURS, illustrated by Mary GrandPre.

  7. Gina Perry Says:

    Mustache Baby! By Bridget Heos and Joy Ang. So funny. Gorgeous illustrations.

  8. Dawn Kepler Says:

    The books of Margaret Wise Brown’s books have been loved by several generations. Goodnight Moon, The Little Fur Family, Runaway Bunny. Also, Beatrix Potter. Do couples count? I love Janet & Allan Ahlberg’s Jolly Postman & Each Peach, Pear, Plum. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag.

    Not a picture book but a kids book – My Father’s Dragon written & illustrated by Ruth Stiles Gannett.

    If you’re counting illustrators, I love Harry the Dirty Dog, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham.

  9. Linda Johns Says:

    My favorite of 2013 is SOPHIE’S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Can’t wait to see the new improved list!

  10. Diandra Mae Says:

    For 2013? Author-illustrator Yuyi Morales’ NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD, Cynthia Rylant’s GOD GOT A DOG, illus by Marla Frazee. Author-illustrator Molly Idle’s FLORA & THE FLAMINGO, Andrea Beaty’s ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER. My books are all packed up, but I’ll list more as I remember them. ;)

  11. Kristin Tubb Says:

    MY BLUE IS HAPPY by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien.

  12. carin berger Says:

    i sooo agree!!! i am going to pull together a list but really think you have raised such important questions which need exploration. thank you!!!!

  13. Angela S Says:

    Byron loves STEAM TRAIN DREAM TRAIN by Shari Duskey Rinker and DREAM FRIENDS by You Byun (that ones’ a favorite of mine, too. The pictures are mesmerizing.)

  14. Carter Higgins Says:

    Andrea Beatty’s ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER is whoa. And huge, huge, huge fan of everything Melissa Sweet this year. And Jennifer Berne’s ON A BEAM OF LIGHT. Oh, and Emily Hughes’ WILD.

  15. Anne Marie Pace Says:

    I love THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH by Deb Heiligman and LeUyen Pham–the math in the art is astounding. SOPHIE’S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf might be my fave of the year for sheer sweetness laced with lots of wit. Loved TEA PARTY RULES by Ame Dyckman and K.G. Campbell (though he is a guy, I believe).

  16. Kathy Says:

    I love Deborah Freeman’s The story of Fish and Snail

  17. Kelly Ramsdell Fineman Says:

    BITS AND PIECES by Judith Byron Schachner is gorgeous.

  18. Suzanne Del Rizzo Says:

    Gosh, so many beautiful 2013 books, but to name a few off the top of my head…I loved If You Hold A Seed by Elly MacKay, If You Want to See a Whale, by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead, The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Barbara Reid.

  19. Anne Ursu Says:

    Oh, FARMER WILL AND THE GROWING TABLE! Jackie Briggs Martin.

  20. Kristi Valiant Says:

    May I add my own? PENGUIN CHA-CHA by Kristi Valiant, published by Random House.

  21. kate b Says:

    Great post! I also think that the problem is stemming from some unintentional sexism we all carry around that values male produced artwork more than female (and not that somehow females are writing and illustrating less well than males.)

    I loved:
    Miss Maples Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
    Holly Hobbie’s The Night Before Christmas (isbn: 0316070181)

  22. kate b Says:

    Oh and Sandra Boynton’s Frog Trouble!

  23. Teresa Rolfe Kravtin Says:

    Little Red Writing by Jane Holub and Melissa Sweet, Rock-a-Bye Room by Susan Meyers and Amy Bates, Whale Shines by Fiona Robinson, Lucy Cousins, ICaptain Cat by nga Moore, and the beautiful Fall Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow.

  24. Roxie Munro Says:

    Like Erica and Kristi, may I add mine? Slithery Snakes, Hatch!, Busy Builders, EcoMAZES, Go!Go!Go, and a couple dozen more ….;-))

  25. Carrie Gelson @There's a Book for That Says:

    Love! One of my favourites The Boy who Loved Math is here already Yippee! Also love Once upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Read me a Story Stella Marie Louise Gay, Nora’s Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan and Willow Finds a Way by Lana Button. So appreciate this list! Will share widely!

  26. Julie Rowan-Zoch Says:

    Funny that I have recently been putting just such a list together, not funny that it has been so noticable to both of us. The list is on my desktop, I’ll add here when I get the chance.

  27. Sally Wilkins Says:

    _Red Sled_ (Lita Judge) also her new book _How Big were Dinosaurs?_
    _Pumpkin, Pumpkin_ (Jeanne Titherington)
    and of course, Margaret Wise Brown . . .

  28. agy wilson Says:

    I’m biased of course. Sarah Brannen’s Uncle Bobby’s Wedding and Lisa Kopelke’s Excuse me would be at the top. As well as Lisa Wheeler and Ponder Gamboel’s Sailor Moo or Linda Smith and Marlee Frazee’s Mrs. Biddlebox. Or ANYTHING by Ruth Sanderson. They Call Her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell and Cynthia Von Buhler… Ugly by Donna Jo Napoli and Lita Judge. Rechenka’s Eggs and anything else by Patricia Polacco. Stella Luna, Verdi, Crickwing and Penduli by Janell Cannon.

  29. agy wilson Says:

    Oops, I missed the part where it was from this year. There are so many wonderful books by women, and I absolutely agree with your point. Sorry!

  30. melanie hope greenberg Says:

    MERMAIDS ON PARADE by Me (Melanie Hope Greenberg) and a bunch of other books, too.

  31. Melissa Guion Says:

    Brainpickings is featuring Jane, the Fox and Me today! http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/11/25/jane-the-fox-and-me/

  32. Aaron Becker Says:

    I just read Jane the Fox and Me last night and immediately thought of you and Susan when she makes the buddy at the camp. Terrific book. Also glad to see Jenn Corace’s book on your list and basically everything on there. You have great taste! There were a few I had not seen so I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled.

  33. Katy K. Says:

    I know girl-focused books don’t usually make best-of lists either, but both my four-year-old girl and my 9-year-old boy have been loving the Tallulah books by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. The ones that came out this year are “Tallulah’s Toe Shoes” and “Tallulah’s Nutcracker”. We also enjoyed “Hank Finds an Egg” by Rebecca Dudley and “Tap the Magic Tree” by Christie Matheson.

  34. Marty Says:

    So glad you brought our attention to this, Laurel. One of my favorite picture book writers is Linda Ashman. Her technique and vision in writing her many picture books is truly inspiring.

  35. Tasha Says:

    Just from the pile on my desk awaiting review on my blog:

    Bobo the Sailor Man! by Eileen Rosenthal
    The Case of the Missing Donut by Alison McGhee
    The Line by Paula Bossio
    Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter by Cari Best
    Ding Dong Gorilla! by Michelle Robinson
    Year of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins

  36. ashley wolff Says:

    Can I immodestly add Baby Bear Counts One, which I wrote and illustrated?

  37. uyen pham Says:

    i love love love this list. and no i didn’t even know of half the books on this list! but i spent the year in france, and i saw the jane the fox book while there and even stumbled through it in french. another frenchie to look out for is charlotte gastaut. i don’t think her books are interpreted here yet, but DAMN she’s GOOD!

  38. Joelle Biele Says:

    Love it, Laurel! Thank you for making this list!

  39. Kim Pfennigwerth Says:

    Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman
    Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg by Lori Mortensen
    Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
    I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman — Great List!!!

  40. Melissa Sweet Says:

    What a great post. I must add Catherine Thimmesh’s, Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like? She wrote Girls Think of Everything. Indeed, they do!

  41. Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe) Says:

    I hope you will include poetry picture books on this list, of which there are MANY gorgeous examples by women. Such as:

    WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHARMS, CHANTS, AND BLESSINGS by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski
    FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Robbin Gourley
    FOLLOW, FOLLOW by Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse

    2012 and before
    RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski
    A LEAF CAN BE by Laura Purdie Salas and Violeta Dabija
    BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS by Laura Purdie Salas and Josee Bisaillon
    WATER SINGS BLUE by Kate Coombs and Meilo So
    MIRROR, MIRROR by Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse
    AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFE and HEY THERE, STINK BUG! by by Leslie Bulion and Leslie Evans

  42. Bridget Heos Says:

    Wow! Awesome list! I’ve read and loved many of these, but see that I have quite a few still to check out. Thank you for including Mustache Baby.

  43. Kathryn Ault Noble Says:

    Great list! Another powerful book just released, ONCE UPON A MEMORY, by Nina Laden, illustrated by Renata Liwska, Little, Brown & Company December 2013. Received a starred review from Kirkus. The F and G gave me goose bumps and misty eyes. Gorgeous illustrations from Renata. Also the quirky and delightful HENNY by Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (Ships first week in January). The F and G had me laughing all the way through.

  44. lauren tobia Says:

    well just thought i would add Atinukes books to the list.
    “Anna Hibiscus Song”
    and “splash Anna hibiscus”
    their illustrated by a woman too (me)

  45. lauren tobia Says:

    and not forgetting my favorite at the moment
    “time for bed Fred” by Yasmeen Ismail

  46. Emlyn Says:

    OK, I’m not sure how this list was assembled but I don’t recognize ANY of these books. Seriously. And we have a 4-year-old GIRL who LOVES books!

    How is it that we have a small library of picture books and I don’t see any in this list that we’ve read? My wife makes a bi-monthly pilgrimage to our local library to reserve/pick up the ones that interest us; are the libraries not stocking many of these? Where are they promoted? Or are they all ebooks?

    Maybe we’re just suckers of marketing and aren’t seeing the other good stuff out there. A bit confuzzled.

  47. Dana Nelson Says:

    I LOVE The Penguin Cha-Cha by author / illustrator Kristi Valiant. I mean who doesn’t love a mischievous group of dancing penguins? Bought several of these as Christmas gifts this year.

  48. laurel Says:


    This list was compiled simply by me posting last night that I wanted people to tell me their favorite female-made titles for 2013. SO each of these is someone else’s fave.

    Not only are these mainstream titles from mostly major houses, but a lot of them are by award winning and bestselling artists and authors. Why we (and I’m in the same club as you– I don’t know most of them) aren’t hearing about them, I don’t know…

  49. Mary Roche Says:

    I’m thinking of Lane Smith, Emily Gravett, Molly Bang, Mem Fox, Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas, Jane Ray, Louise Yates, Jane Yolen, Margaret Wise Brown, Charlotte Zolotow, Melanie Watts, Niamh Sharkey etc etc

  50. laurel Says:

    Great list, but for the record, Lane Smith is a dude. A very talented dude.

  51. Anamaria Says:

    How about Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier and Suzy Lee? and–thank you for this list!

  52. Reshama Says:

    Hi Laurel,
    I reviewed 2 excellent books written and illustrated by Women that I would loved to see win a prize. One is called “Is This Panama?: A migration story” and the second “Razia’s Ray of Hope”.
    Thank you for the list. Of course if we had to step back in time, I could added many many more excellent award worthy books to the list!
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  53. Tamson Says:

    Wow. What a beautiful list! There are many that I haven’t had a chance to check out. Thank you, Laurel.

  54. CS Perryess Says:

    I’d add to your stunning list, author-illustrator Carol Heyer’s Humphrey’s First Christmas.

  55. laurel Says:

    Heyer’s book didn’t pub this year. I’m trying to keep this list all new titles.

  56. Miranda Paul Says:

    I don’t think anyone mentioned Jeanette Winter’s new book HENRI’S SCISSORS?

  57. laurel Says:

    Thanks! I added it.

  58. Stacy Couch Says:

    MUSTACHE BABY is a definite fave, as is FLORA THE FLAMINGO. Envy the flow in Pace’s VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series too.

  59. Stacy Couch Says:

    And not on your list, adore Ame Dyckman’s TEA PARTY RULES.

  60. Robb Michael G Says:

    Somewhat pertinent to this list: ‘Not All Princesses Dress in Pink’ by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple and Anne-Sophie Lanquetin

  61. Perfecting Motherhood Says:

    Great list! My kids and I have read several books on your list and now you’re giving me ideas for more.
    I would add a few:
    Llama llama and the bully goat
    Exclamation mark (great book!!!)
    Year of the jungle

  62. Sylvia Liu Says:

    Great list – I’m bookmarking this.

  63. Janet F. Says:

    I think your list is fabulous and can’t get over how many amazing 2013 books you could find. My personal favorite is Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. The poems tell a story and the illustrations are simply lovely. So many titles to choose from!

  64. Damon Dean Says:

    Great list! What a compilation!
    You’ve left me wondering why, and there’s no apparent reason.
    Anyway, great books are great books.
    What makes this phenomena (men dominating the lists you cited) was that I was called a ‘she’ during a webinar tonight. HA! I didn’t correct the host.

  65. Liz Lincoln Steiner Says:

    Isabella, Star of the Story by Jen Fosberry is another great one. The whole series is one of my daughter’s favorites.

  66. patricia Says:

    Great list. And I’m very happy to see Canadian titles on this list, too. May I be so bold as to mention my own title, published Oct 2013 by Scholastic Canada? I’m rather proud of it. NEVER LET YOU GO, written and illustrated by Patricia Storms.

  67. laurel Says:

    I’m so excited about it!! But I made a rule people couldn’t add themselves (hence my own books aren’t on here)

  68. patricia Says:

    Ooops. Sorry. Got excited & didn’t read the post properly. Well, let me mention The Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier. A beautiful picture book which is getting a lot of attention. Oh, and one more – The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson.

  69. Suzanne Says:

    I have really enjoyed catching up on books I missed using this post! Thank you!

    I just read and fell in love with How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens, first published in the US in 2013.

  70. Cathryn Says:

    Some things just don’t change. I’ve been sad about this disparity for decades. Count the Caldecott and Newbery winners for gender inequality.

Leave a Reply